UPS driver Andrew Hancock checks the load before leaving on the day’s deliveries at the UPS depot in 2015 in Jackson, Pa. (Bob Donaldson/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/TNS)
Photo: Staff Writer
Photo: Staff Writer

Package delayed? You’re not alone. Some UPS shipments are late amid a crush of holiday orders

Some UPS packages have been delayed amid a crush of orders from online sales the week after Thanksgiving, the shipping giant acknowledged Tuesday.

Sandy Spring-based UPS said some packages are taking an additional one to two days in transit, a situation expected to last through Wednesday, said company spokesman Steve Gaut.

The company expects to handle a total of 750 million packages over the holiday season, up 5 percent year-over-year. But “the volume that came in within Cyber Week was higher than our forecast or our operating plan,” Gaut said. “We weren’t able to fully adjust.”

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Cyber Monday has become Cyber Week, the period after Thanksgiving when online orders pick up among holiday shoppers looking for deals.

UPS Express deliveries had an 89.2 percent on-time rate last week based on delivery by end of day, according to Satish Jindel, president of tracking software developer ShipMatrix. That’s compared to a 99.4 percent on-time rate for FedEx Express. 

The company last Friday notified drivers in more than 100 locations, including at its Pleasantdale facility in metro Atlanta, that they may be subject to a work schedule of 70 hours over eight days through Jan. 5. That’s the federally-allowed maximum, after which a driver would be entitled to 34 hours of rest.

“Their actual work hours will be dependent on how the volume comes in and whether they’re needed on that kind of schedule,” Gaut said. Drivers get paid time-and-a-half for overtime pay above 8 hours a day. UPS is also hiring 95,000 seasonal workers to help in facilities and as driver helpers during the holiday season.

He said UPS sent some of its office staff to locations that needed extra help to “work through some of the bottlenecks after last weekend.”

Teamsters general president James P. Hoffa wrote a letter to UPS CEO David Abney on Monday expressing “outrage and concern” over the 8-day/70 hour workweek for drivers. Hoffa wrote that the decision was made “without any regard for the physical toll that will result from working the additional hours the Company will compel. And it callously ignores the plans [drivers] may have made for spending time with their families this holiday season.” UPS and the Teamsters are in contract negotiations.

The spike in online orders came in spite of new UPS peak surcharges aimed at smoothing out volume with accompanying efforts by retailers like Macy’s offering $10 in Macy’s Money store credit in exchange for delayed delivery, Gaut said.

“If the customer didn’t follow their lead, then they still ordered and we were still obligated to get the packages to them,” Gaut said.

UPS reduced its service guarantee last week, allowing it more time to make deliveries. But depending on the type of UPS shipping used, some retailers may be eligible to file a claim because of late shipments, according to Gaut.

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